We’ve already covered our Group Stage predictions for World Cup Groups A through D. And now we still have four more groups to cover in this predictions bonanza. Let’s not waste any more time shall we, and dive straight in.
Group E: Switzerland, France, Ecuador & Honduras
Switzerland, under German coach Ottmar Hitzfeld, qualified for the World Cup with relative ease booking their spot with a game to spare. In terms of attacking sensibilities Switzerland have the players to hurt the other sides in their group. In Xherdan Shaqiri, Gökhan Inler, Granit Xhaka, and Josep Drmić the Swiss have a group of players who will create chances, but they’ll need to convert them. Shaqiri has a particular point to prove given his lack of game time at Bayern Munich; Pep Guardiola labeled the Swiss international as his “most important bench player,” not a tag that Shaqiri will cherish too much. Fabian Schär is another player worth watching with the young defender being linked to Arsenal, whilst Stephan Lichsteiner will provide width from his fullback position. Hitzfeld will keep an eye on his right flank though as it could be susceptible to counters should Lichsteiner find himself out of position.
Ecuador qualified fourth in the South American qualifiers, stuttering over the finish line with only one win in their last six qualification games. It was a difficult period for the Ecuadorians as they tragically lost striker Christian Benitez last July as a result of heart failure. Manchester United’s Antonio Valencia captains the side and, along with fellow winger Jefferson Montero, will be crucial to how the Ecuadorians will play. Coach Reinaldo Rueda will look for his team to get the ball wide as quickly as possible and attack the opposition from the flanks. Montero will be one to watch given his unpredictable nature. Enner Valencia has been making a name for himself whilst everyone knows what they’ll get from Antonio Valencia. For Ecuador to progress the team will need to click into gear as a unit right from the start and avoid defensive clangers like this:
SEE MORE — Everything you need to know about the World Cup.
Life is never dull with France. After coming from 2-0 down in the playoffs against Ukraine to win 3-2 on aggregate, they were drawn in a relatively easy group only to have Clément Grenier and more importantly Franck Ribéry ruled out with injury. Didier Deschamps doesn’t even have the luxury of calling up Samir Nasri after axing the Manchester City forward. Howeve,r Deschamps’ focus is not on picking the best eleven players, but those who he thinks will form the best team. Even with Ribéry out, the French still possess a very strong spine with Hugo Lloris in goal, Laurent Koscielny at the back, Paul Pogba in midfield, and Karim Benzema up front. Also, Ribery’s misfortune could open the door for Real Sociedad’s Antoine Griezmann to show everyone that he’s made for this level of football. With the memories of the 2010 World Cup still lingering, Didier Deschamps will be on his guard to ensure that the squad remains harmonious and avoids complacency. Losing Ribery is no doubt a big blow but it is not a fatal one for the French. Should this squad come together and pull in the same direction then we could see Les Bleus make a decent impression on the World Cup.